Steve McLaughlan has charged from eighth to first in the second CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series race at Phillip Island.
The Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing driver charged through the field in the early stages, and seized the lead during the pit stop cycle to move ahead of Rod Salmon (Skwirk Online Education), edging his way clear to take the race victory.
Tricky damp conditions greeted drivers for the start, with Salmon racing clear at the drop of the green flag to open a comfortable lead in the opening stages.
Wayne Mack (Mack Bros Roofing Products) held on to second until he was reeled in by the charging McLaughlan shortly before the pit window opened.
Jan Jinadasa (JJA Consulting), Rob Smith (Southern Star Developments) and Mathew Turnbull (Fire Rating Solutions) found themselves engaged in a tense battle that lasted the duration of the race, Jinadasa taking a narrow fourth at the chequered flag from Smith and Turnbull, who’d run third in the early stages.
Problems for Richard Gartner on the opening lap saw the Safe-T-Stop Lamborghini drop down the order, before the Queensland Raceway round winner was forced out of the race after a mix up in the pits.
Taking out the Challenge Modern Class was Mark Griffith, who scored maximum points for the weekend in the Griffith Corporation Ferrari F430.
He found himself locked in battle with Justin McMillan in the second half of the race, the Interlloy M Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT4 enjoying the slippery conditions to mix it with Griffith.
Scott Hookey picked up second in Challenge Modern in the Fiorano Motorsport entry with John Nikolovski and Jamie Arratoon rounding out the podium in the Aranik Ferrari 458 Challenge.
With victory in Race 1 and second in Race 2, Salmon took out the round to close the title battle to just 49-points heading to the final round of the 2017 season at Wakefield Park (November 18 – 19).
With a maximum of 220 points on offer at the season finale, the title chase is now a straight fight between McLaughlan and Salmon after Gartner’s weekend saw him drop 225-points behind the series leader.
Before then, Australian GT heads to Sandown next weekend for the final round of the CAMS Australian GT Championship (September 15 – 16), while the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship will head to New Zealand for its final two rounds starting with the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500 on October 27 – 29.
Highlights from Round 4 of the CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series presented by Pirelli from Phillip Island will be shown on Speedweek on Sunday, September 24 at 1pm (AEST).